Changes are coming to the St. Bernard/Elmwood Place School District
with the construction of a new combined elementary, middle and high school.
The school, which will house more than 1,000 students, will replace the existing elementary and junior/senior high school. The existing schools will remain open until the completion of the new combined school, which is projected to be finished in fall or winter of 2019. Initial construction stages are set to begin next spring.
While an architect has not yet been selected for the project, the layout for space, cost and location are already in full swing. The 144,000-square-foot school would be built on the existing 6.6-acre site that is currently shared by St. Bernard-Elmwood Place High School and St. Bernard Elementary School, which are located at 4615 Tower Ave. and 4515 Tower Ave., respectively. Those locations will be demolished upon completion of the project.
According to Emily Hauser, treasurer of the school district, the project was made possible by funding from the state. The estimated cost of the project is about $37 million, with $27 million of that coming from the state. The remaining $10 million is covered by a 2016 bond levy.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission
is the lead on the project, having previously assessed the need for improvements in the existing schools.
“The OFCC evaluated our current buildings about three years ago, and determined that new construction was the most cost efficient manner to proceed,” says Mimi Webb, superintendent of St. Bernard/Elmwood Place City Schools. “The OFCC provides a concept called ‘Educational Visioning,’ which includes a wide spectrum of people to discuss what they want to see in the future for their children and grandchildren. During this visioning piece, a transition plan will be developed to address how we will transition from three buildings to one. The visioning aspect will include the development of classroom space and how instruction is best delivered in the 21st century.”
One of the goals of this project, aside from updating the existing conditions at the current schools, is to begin a solid foundation for students from a younger age. By incorporating the proposed changes to the school district, students will be together longer.
“We wanted to combine our two elementary buildings so students could begin their education together sooner, thus allowing friendships to begin in preschool rather than make the transition in seventh grade,” Webb says.
Because the district and OFCC are so early in the process, other specifications are still in the works. The district put out a request for qualifying construction managers
on Dec. 30, and all final proposals were due yesterday.
The district will request project proposals and short-list firms in February with interviews and selection to take place in March.